Dear Chief Saunders,
I am writing to you today to express my deep concern and frustration about the internal letter you sent to your officers regarding the tragic shooting in Dallas, and about your response to Black Lives Matter TO in general. In your letter you accuse BLMTO of making inaccurate, irresponsible, and inflammatory statements, but it is you who are doing so. Your letter actively stirs up dangerous attitudes when you should be showing thoughtful leadership.
You begin by reassuring the officers you lead that their safety and wellbeing are of utmost importance. As you should. I can only imagine the grief and fear that police officers and their families are feeling right now. My heart and the hearts of everyone I’ve spoken to in recent days are with them. But you go on to cast BLMTO (“those people”) as a divisive force with the goal of driving a wedge between the police andthe LGBT community. By saying that the progress that has been made in building relationships between the TPS and LGBT communities “must be a source of great anger to them” you imply that BLMTO and their supporters are cynically anti-police. This is entirely false.
As an informed citizen who has actually listened to BLMTO I cannot read your letter any other way but as an attempt to use the outpouring of support for police in the wake of the horrifying events in Dallas to further marginalize the voices of the very communities you purport to be reaching out to in your letter. You are inciting anger against them in a dangerous way. You accuse BLMTO of offering only “abuse and insults”, but anyone who listens to their demands can see that they are entirely reasonable and legitimate. BLMTO use tactics that are loud and public and they express justified anger at the lack of change in policing and accountability despite decades of work by activists, particularly from communities of Colour and Queer and Trans communities. They are getting results and I and many others will continue to support them. Just because their tactics and approach make you and others in the TPS feel uncomfortable does not justify dismissing them and refusing to engage.
You should be seeking to work with BLMTO and the communities they represent in good faith to ensure that all people are safe and respected in their interactions with police. Police who harm or kill people must be held accountable.
CC: Mayor John Tory;
Andrew Pringle, Chair, Police Services Board
Councillor Gord Perks